The United States still remains the world’s most affected country by the coronavirus in terms of active infections and deaths. With more than 3.17 million and 135 thousand deaths, as of writing, the US is one of the hardest-hit nations in the world. What’s worrying thing is the fact that things do not seem to be getting any better any soon. The virus is spreading rapidly across the country.
The COVID-19 situation in the United States cannot compare to countries that seem to be winning this war. Countries such as Spain, Italy and many others that have flattened the coronavirus curve. If anything, the US seems to be getting worse with more than fifty thousand new cases being reported every day as of writing.
But what did countries like Spain, which was the hardest hit in Europe, got right in the war against the coronavirus? Well, there are a few things that we can learn about how these countries contained the virus.
One of the things that the government of Spain did is downplaying the existence of the virus within the country. It always viewed the virus as an ‘external’ threat. As the cases kept growing in China by the beginning of the year, and the country confirmed its first case end January, Spain authorities didn’t seem to get concerned.
It was not until 26th February, when the first case of a resident of Seville, who had no history of travel, was confirmed. After a week, the first Coronavirus case was reported. This would mark the first of many, with the count standing currently at 28, 400 dead.
The same trend has been witnessed in the United States, where the government repeatedly downplayed the seriousness of coronavirus. The government even went as far as to promise that the virus cure to handle the pandemic but nothing came through. But the number of new cases and deaths continued to rise rapidly.
When Spain noted that the coronavirus was about to get out of control, the country deployed some of the toughest containment measures. The country practically shut down. Schools and all other institutions were closed for six weeks. During this time, kids were banned from going out. These worked to contain the transmission – the epidemic was on the decline.
But the US did not impose a shutdown when cases started to rise drastically. Although some states such as New York tried, the most hit states, restrict movement trough the state’ stay-at-home order, the numbers still continued to rise as people would still visit beaches and other public spaces. The country had to consider a complete lockdown for a few weeks, so that maybe the US could be where Spain is today.
Lack of PPE and vital equipment another problem that Spain grappled at the initial stage. Due to lack of preparation, there was not enough N95 and KN95 masks for the health workers apart from EEP2 masks. That’s why a huge of doctors and nurses perished from the pandemic.
The same case has been experienced in the US where health workers lacked PPE and medical protective clothing and other essential equipment like KN95 face masks to handle COVID-19 patients. The number of health workers who got infected in the line of duty is also high in the US. Maybe the US could have prepared itself with enough PPE based on what European countries had experienced.
Testing was a big problem in Spain. A lot of inconsistencies was experienced during the height epidemic. With the rising the number of patients showing COVID-19 symptoms, it was difficult to carry thorough testing. That’s something the US could have learnt to avoid the current problems where testing had become very ineffective.
Today, the US struggling with testing. People are taking hours to have their samples were taken. They will then wait up to 8 days get the result due to of lack testing capacity. During this time, they are back to the community, probably transmitting the virus if they were positive or contracting the virus. This means the result may not reflect their current status.
Despite a bad starting, Spanish authorities did an incredible job to contain COVID-19 and flattening the curve. Today, the number of new cases has declined significantly due to tough containment measure the government imposed. Efficient and reliable testing is crucial for mapping out areas that need more attention.
For the countries struggling with COVID-19, such as the US, have a lot to learn from Spain on containment measures. Restricting movement has proven to be one of the most effective ways to flatten the curve. Efficient and coordinated testing is also crucial. Last but not least, equipping healthy workers with PPE and vital equipment is very important to win the coronavirus war.